Richard Morant: Actor best known as Flashman, and as Dr Enys in 'Poldark'

 

The actor Richard Morant was a darkly handsome presence on British television and stage. His portrayal of the archetypal bully Flashman in the 1971 BBC adaptation of Tom Brown's Schooldays terrified a generation of British children and remains the benchmark performance of the role to this day.

He also captured many a viewer's heart in the costume drama Poldark (adapted from Winston Graham's novel) as the irresistible and kind Dr Dwight Enys. From 1975 onwards, alongside his career as an actor, he ran his own Notting Hill gallery where he sold central Asian carpets and textiles.

Richard Morant was one of fivechildren born to the Shakespearean actor Philip Morant and his wife Pearl Travers in the village of Tredington, Warwickshire. Richard had an exceptional treble voice and sang solos in the church choir. Along with two of hissisters, and his first cousin, Penelope Wilton, he was naturally drawn toacting and went to study at the Central School of Speech and Drama inLondon, where he shared a housein Camden with fellow studentsDavid Dundas, Bruce Robinson and Michael Feast.

The ménage is recalled by his sister Angie as being permanently on the edge of chaos, but with its own shambolic style and frequent riotous parties with surprisingly good food. When Robinson went on to write the script of Withnail and I a decade or so later, he drew on these days for material.

Morant joined the Prospect theatre soon after graduating and toured in company with Ian McKellen, appearing in Shakespeare's Richard II, Edward II and Twelfth Night. More stage work followed, as well as the roles inTom Brown's Schooldays, and Poldark (1975-76). In 1974, having seen hisFlashman, Ken Russell had cast Morant as acomposite character called Max, scornful and mischievous, representing Alma Mahler's lovers in the fantastical biopic Mahler.

During the next decade Morant played characters as varied as Robespierre, opposite Anthony Andrews's Scarlet Pimpernel (1982), Brian Epstein in a TV drama called John and Yoko (1985) and the bridegroom in Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves (1985). His career slowed down during the late 1980s but his mellifluous voice was in demand for voice-overs and radio, and three months ago he recorded the audio book of Julian Barnes' Booker prize-winner The Sense of an Ending.

Alongside his acting Morant had a parallel career as a dealer in carpets and textiles. He set up the Richard Morant Gallery in 1975, taking over the premises from his business partner David Black, a major figure in the world of central Asian textiles. The gallery was well stocked with 19th and early 20th century material, but Morant took most pride in the contemporary pieces, often of his own design, hand-loomed to order in rural Turkey using organic dyes, with either traditional patterns or adaptations of textiles from elsewhere.

There were William Morris-style knotted carpets and kilims based on early Peruvian weavings. The traditional communities who made these textiles inspired Richard with their values and respect for nature and the sacred. He would return home from visiting his weavers invigorated and optimistic. On the Dalai Lama's most recent tour of this country, he addressed an audience seated on a rug designed by Richard.

After a long spiritual journey Richard found what he had been searching for and gained an acceptance of life's impermanence. Buddhist thought and philosophy enriched his very existence and visitors to the gallery sometimes spotted a discreet shrine in a corner near his desk. He was able to communicate some of his inner calm to those close to him when they were in need and had a gentle gift for friendship, managing to be gregarious without being formally social. Classical music was something of a passion, as was literature, and, surprisingly, he devoured modern thrillers.

Although profound and ascetic, he had an earthy side with a delightful laugh that came easily. Recently, I told him how bad I had found the last episodes of Downton Abbey. Richard replied, laughing heartily, that yes, it was awful, and what was more awful was that he wasn't in it. He will be greatly missed.

Richard Morant, actor and gallerist: born Shipston on Stour, Warwickshire 30 October 1945; married 1969 Melissa Fairbanks (one son, one daughter; marriage dissolved 1979), 1982 Valerie Buchanan (one son, one daughter); died Richmond, Surrey 9 November 2011.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn